Missouri State Lady Bears (4-3) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-3) Dates: Tuesday, December 8, 2009Time: 7:05 p.m.Site: JQH Arena(11,000)Location: Springfield, Mo.Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans, Lynne Miller)TV: NoneLive Audio: www.radiospringfield.comLive Video: www.MissouriStateBears.com (Bears Live)Live Stats: www.MissouriStateBears.comUpcoming: December 16 vs. Murray State
The Missouri State Lady Bears (4-3) return home Tuesday evening from a four-game road swing, welcoming the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-3) to JQH Arena for a 7:05 p.m. contest.
The Lady Bears will look to continue building momentum leading up to the beginning of Missouri Valley Conference play at the end of the month. Missouri State reeled off three straight wins from Nov. 18 through a Nov. 27 win at Arkansas State. After seeing their streak end with a setback at Eastern Michigan on Nov. 29, the Lady Bears split a pair of games at last weekend's Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic in Manhattan, Kan.
Tuesday's match-up will be the first of two consecutive home dates for the Lady Bears, who will square off against Murray State next Wednesday (Dec. 16), before hitting the road again for games with Oral Roberts (Dec. 19) and SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 22) to wind down the non-conference season.
► With a win Tuesday, Missouri State would improve to 7-1 all time versus Tulsa at home
► After shooting just 26.9 percent from beyond the arc in its first three games of the season, Missouri State connected on 24-of-63 (.381) three-point attempts over its recently-completed four-game road swing
► Sophomore guard Jaleshia Roberson hit 6-of-14 (.429) three-point attempts this past week after converting just seven of her first 26 (.269) tries from long range in 2009-10
► Missouri State continues to lead the Valley in steals per game (10.1) and ranks second in assists (14.9); the Lady Bears also lead the conference in offensive rebounding (15.7)
► Freshman forward Christiana Shorter posted career scoring highs in back-to-back games to earn all-tournament recognition at the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic
Last Time Out
Kansas State rode a 26-point performance from its senior All-America candidate Ashley Sweat to overcome an early 19-point deficit and pull out a 64-60 victory over the Lady Bears Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic. The Wildcats shot .500 from the floor in the second half and turned up the defensive pressure to limit MSU to just 8-of-30 (.267) shooting after intermission to improve to 4-4 on the season.
Sweat, who went 8-of-13 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the foul line, made key play after key play down the stretch, including a crucial three-pointer with 1:07 to go that stretched the KSU lead to 63-57.
Missouri State led by nine with 6:09 left in the contest when Sweat started a 10-0 KSU run by knocking down a pair of free throws. Brittany Chambers converted a three-point play moments later, and Kari Kincaid's second three-pointer of the half put the Wildcats up for the 17:36 mark of the first half when they led 3-2.
After a Jaleshia Roberson free throw knotted the score at 57-57 with 2:59 to go, Chambers' putback off an offensive rebound gave KSU the lead for good. Sweat made one of two attempts at the foul line at the 1:35 mark, but the Wildcats got another huge offensive board and Sweat made MSU pay, canning a three from the right wing to effectively seal the win.
The victory for Kansas State came after the Lady Bears shot lights-out in the first half and forced 11 Wildcat turnovers to build a 19-point lead. Missouri State got out of the gate in a hurry, using back-to-back three-pointers from Roberson to take a seven-point lead in the opening minutes. With the Lady Bears on top 4-3, Roberson drained a trey and drew a foul from Chambers. After the sophomore from Kansas City missed the free throw, Lacey Boshe grabbed the loose ball and fed Roberson for a long jumper from the left wing for a 10-3 lead.
Chambers briefly pulled the Wildcats to within two points with a pair of baskets, but the Lady Bears reeled off 11 unanswered points to stretch their advantage to 21-8 with just under 10 minutes to go in the half. MSU would go on to push the margin to 15 points on a Christiana Shorter steal and breakaway layup at the 8:15 mark to cap a 17-4 run.
Sweat answered with 10 straight points for the Wildcats to help pull the home team to within 11, but the Lady Bears came right back to score 12 of the next 16 points, extending the lead to 39-20 on a Jasmine Malone jumper with 1:43 to play in the first half.
MSU connected on 16-of-32 field goal attempts in the opening period and headed to the locker room with a 19-4 advantage in points scored off turnovers. Senior guard Melissa Busby came off the bench to spark the Lady Bear offense, totaling 11 first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting.
But the Lady Bear offense went cold just as the Wildcats heated up. MSU would convert only two field goals in the final 6:26 and KSU held leading scorer Casey Garrison to just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting, marking just the fourth time in her Lady Bear career that the Bolivar, Mo., native failed to reach double digits.
Shorter, who was named to the all-tournament team along with Garrison, posted a career scoring high for the second straight day, going 5-of-9 from the floor to finish with a team-high 15 points.
Scouting the Lady Bears
Missouri State entered the season looking for its first winning campaign in four years. Last year's edition of the Lady Bears went 10-20 overall and finished seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference behind a deep freshman class that accounted for 68 percent of the club's offensive production.
Sophomore Casey Garrison has picked up right where she left off a year ago when she led all Division I true freshman in total scoring. So far the Bolivar, Mo., native ranks second in the Valley in scoring (19.7 ppg.), assists (5.1 apg.) and steals (3.0 spg.), while ranking third in rebounding (8.0 rpg.). Her backcourt mate Jasmine Malone came through with a career game in the win over Saint Louis, totaling 19 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks, and is contributing 9.0 points per game. Sophomore Lacey Boshe is fifth on the squad with an 8.4 ppg., average, while shooting a team-high .489 from the floor. Freshman Christiana Shorter enjoyed her best weekend as a Lady Bear at Kansas State, earning all-tournament honors after posting career scoring highs in successive games and comes into Tuesday's action with an 8.7 ppg., average. Sophomore Jaleshia Roberson also enters play with averaging 8.7 points and has amassed the second-highest assist total (17) on the club. Senior Melissa Busby is MSU's top threat from long range, coming into the week shooting .357 from beyond the three-point arc. The Edmond, Okla., native also ranks 10th on the Lady Bears' career three-point field goals chart with 108 makes.
As a team, MSU is outscoring the opposition by 2.4 points per contest, while its defense has forced 140 turnovers in seven games this season. The Lady Bears have also been strong on the glass, outrebounding their seven opponents by an average of 2.1 boards per game.
Scouting the Golden Hurricane
Tulsa enters Tuesday's game with a 3-3 mark that includes wins over UMKC, La Salle and Akron. The Golden Hurricane return three starters and nine letterwinners from last year's 7-22 squad that finished 11th in Conference USA. Senior Larrissa Williams has also been right in the middle of things for TU, entering the week with averages of 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing. The 6-3 forward turned in one of the best performances of her career in her last trip to Springfield, posting a career-high 27 points in a 72-61 loss to the Lady Bears on Dec. 4, 2007. Freshman Taleya Mayberry has also played a key role for TU, coming into Tuesday's game with an 11.0 ppg. average and is handing out a team-high 3.7 assists per outing. Sophomore Tiffani Couisnard is the Golden Hurricane's top rebounder (8.3 rpg.) third-leading scorer (8.7 ppg.). TU's top three-point threat, junior Tatum Beer, burned the Lady Bears a year ago by going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, but has struggled from long range this season. Beer enters the contest with the Lady Bears shooting just .241 from three-point range.
As a team, Tulsa has been strong on the defensive end, holding the opposition to just .338 shooting. The Golden Hurricane has blocked 23 shots and have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 4.0 boards per outing through the first six games of the season.
Missouri State enters Tuesday's game with a slim 7-6 lead in the series with Tulsa. MSU and TU have met each of the last five seasons, with the Golden Hurricane taking three of those contests. However, the Lady Bears have won six of the seven previous meetings in Springfield.
The Golden Hurricane posted a 64-56 win in Tulsa last year, using a 23-2 first-half run to build an insurmountable lead. Tatum Beer led the way for Tulsa, scoring 15 of her game-high 18 points after intermission to help TU hold off a late MSU rally.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her third season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 25-42 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 210-78 in 10 years as a collegiate head coach. Prior to taking the reins of the MSU program, the Goodland, Kan., native guided Drury University to a 185-36 record in seven seasons, highlighted by a national runner-up finish in 2003-04. In all, the Lady Panthers made five NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet 16 in four of those years. Milleson was honored as Heartland Conference Coach of the Year four times, as Drury won five conference titles in all.
Charlene Thomas-Swinson (Auburn, '92) is 58-70 in her fifth year at Tulsa. The former Auburn University standout was named Conference USA Coach of the Year after guiding the Golden Hurricane to their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament and a school-record 26 wins in 2005-06. Thomas-Swinson is in her eighth season as a collegiate head coach, having compiled a career record of 82-131. She served as head coach at St. John's from 1996-98.
Over the course of their four-game road swing, the Lady Bears didn't skip a beat on the offensive end of the floor. MSU shot a season-high .484 from the floor at Eastern Michigan (Nov. 29) and totaled 81 points, which was also a season best for MSU. The Lady Bears averaged 73.5 points per game, which was more than six points per outing more than what they averaged in three home games.
Stealing the Show
Paced by the performance of sophomore guard Casey Garrison, Missouri State started the week on top of the Missouri Valley Conference team leaderboard for steals. The Lady Bears are averaging 10.1 steals per outing to tie Drake for the top average in the league, while Garrison ranks second on the individual leader list for both steals. The Bolivar, Mo., product is averaging 3.0 steals per game, which ranks 26th among all Division I players, and is on pace to challenge the MSU single-season record for total steals, set in 1993-94 by Tina Robbins (108). Her 5.1 assist per-game average also puts Garrison second among all MVC players for that statistical category. No Valley player has finished a season as the conference's leader in both steals and assists since 2005-06, when Indiana State's Melanie Boeglin accomplished the feat en route to garnering league MVP honors.
Missouri State is ahead of its 2008-09 pace in both team steals and assists (14.9 apg.). The Lady Bears led the Valley in team steals with a 9.4 spg. average, but ranked just sixth in assists with an 11.9 apg. mark. Three additional Lady Bears rank in the top 15 in the MVC in individual steals, including Jasmine Malone (1.6), who is tied for 10th, as well as Jaleshia Roberson (1.4) and Christiana Shorter (1.4), who are tied for 15th.
Lady Bears Land Hardware
Freshman forward Christiana Shorter became the second Lady Bear to earn a Valley player of the week award in the last two weeks Monday when she was named MVC Newcomer of the Week.
Shorter posted the best week of her young career, averaging 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line to earn all-tournament recognition at the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic in Manhattan, Kan. In MSU's victory over UTEP on Friday, the Tulsa native turned in career highs of 14 points and nine rebounds. She came up big in the second half, scoring 10 points and going 4-of-4 from the charity stripe to help put away the seven-point victory for MSU.
Against Kansas State in the title game on Saturday, Shorter topped her career scoring high for the second straight day. She went 5-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 at the foul line, registering team highs of 15 points and seven boards in MSU's near-upset of the Wildcats on their home floor.
The honor for Shorter came just one week after sophomore guard Casey Garrison was named MVC Player of the Week for the period Nov. 23-29. On the strength of a banner week that included new career highs for points, rebounds, assists and steals, Garrison netted the sixth weekly MVC honor of her career. Against Arkansas State (Nov. 27), Garrison posted one of the most impressive all-around performances in Missouri State history with a 35-point, 17-rebound effort to propel the Lady Bears to a 73-65 win in Jonesboro. The Bolivar, Mo., product converted a career-high 13 field goals on 25 attempts to go along with two assists and five steals. She came up big when it mattered most, scoring 21 second-half points to help MSU pick up its first win in a true November road contest since a Nov. 26, 1983 decision over Missouri-St. Louis. Garrison wasn't quite done, registering a near-triple-double effort in Sunday's 12-point setback at Eastern Michigan.
Dial It Up
After shooting just under 27 percent from long range through their first three games of the season, the Lady Bears have heated up from three-point land over the last four games. MSU shot .381 from beyond the arc over its four-game road trip and its 10-of-17 performance Nov. 27 at Eastern Michigan represented the first time the Lady Bears cracked double digits in triples since Feb. 16, 2008, when they went 13-of-24 in a home win over UNI. MSU has connected at least once from long range in 55 straight games and in 261 of the last 263 games dating back to the 2000-01 season.
In Rare Company
With her 35-point, 17-rebound performance at Arkansas State, Casey Garrison achieved a feat only one other player in Missouri State history had accomplished prior to MSU's Nov. 27 game. The sophomore guard joined Cindy Henderson (37 points/24 rebounds on Jan. 20, 1975) as the only other Lady Bear on record to score at least 35 points and record at least 15 rebounds in a single game. It was also Garrison's second career double-double consisting of 30 points or more, making her only the fourth MSU player on record (along with Henderson, Jeanette Tendai and Jenni Lingor) to record more than one such game in her career.
Free and Easy
As was their calling card in 2008-09, the Lady Bears are once again gaining a measurable advantage at the free throw line through their first seven games of the new season. MSU has outscored the opposition by a 120-89 margin at the foul line, connecting on 67.8 percent of their tries. The Lady Bears have attempted 46 more charity tosses, or an average of +6.6 per outing so far this season.
Through the first four weeks of the season, the Lady Bears are outrebounding their opponents by an average of 2.1 boards per contest, finishing with the edge in total rebounds in all but one contest. While it may be too early to draw any conclusions, those figures lie in stark contrast to last season when MSU was outperformed on the boards by an average of 2.5 rebounds per game. Furthermore, the Lady Bears finished with an advantage in total rebounds in just nine of their 30 games last year.